Democratization, regional integration, and human rights: The case of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights

Yongwook Ryu, Maria Ortuoste

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The establishment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) is extremely puzzling, because many ASEAN members have never been strong supporters of human rights, nor have they been advocates for intervening in the name of human rights. Why did ASEAN members, then, agree to establish the AICHR? We argue that the AICHR is the result of two factors: democratization in key regional countries and the intensifying effort of regional integration in the form of the ASEAN Community project. The former factor engendered key agents for pro-human rights initiatives and set the direction of human rights development within ASEAN. The latter factor weakened the old norms of the ASEAN Way and engendered new regional norms such as good governance and accountability, which were conducive to the development of human rights. It also provided persuasive power based on a shared sense of collective purpose in eliciting agreement from the authoritarian members for the AICHR. We support our argument with the analysis of all ASEAN vision statements and its ministerial meeting statements from 1967 to 2010 as well as our own interviews. The analysis shows that the emergence of new regional norms was closely associated with the development of the ASEAN Community project, and this normative change resulted in a different view of human rights, whose promotion would positively affect regional integration and stability. Our argument suggests a different perspective of a regional human rights mechanism essentially as a regional body reflecting regional norms and values.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)357-382
    JournalThe Pacific Review
    Volume27
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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